Aging in Place, a preferred option for many seniors, means continuing to live in your own home safely and independently as you get older. This sometimes requires assistive technology like walkers and rollators, or support from programs and services for elderly people. According to experts like Rebecca Johnson, it may also help if you have a pet.

Johnson is the director of research at the University of Missouri’s Center for Human Animal Interaction. She says that having a pet provides five things--

    1. Focus

    It’s easy to get distracted and unfocused when you’re retired. But taking care of a pet gives you an important, meaningful thing that needs done every day and on a semi set schedule.

    2. A Reason to Get Up in the Morning

    Hopefully, you already have a reason to get up. Either way, taking care of and playing with your pet is an awesome additional reason to get up and get started with your day.

    3. Exercise

    Taking your pet for walks is a great way to get some exercise. Dogs love to go on walks, but cats can be trained to as well. Plus, there are many leashes designed specifically for cats. There are even leashes designed for birds. Or you can do what this woman did and turn your seated rollator into a carrier for your bird’s cage.

    4. Unconditional Love

    With a few exceptions (don’t get a tiger), most animals make wonderful loving companions.

    5. Social Lubricant

    Meeting new people is tricky, but when you have a pet people will often stop to “ooh and aah” over your furry friend and talk about him. Plus, pet ownership provides a topic of conversation that’s interesting and easy to talk about.

According to Johnson, research has verified that pet owners “take better care of themselves, rebound faster from illness, and have lower blood pressure and incidence of heart disease.” So if your goal is to Age in Place, you may want to consider getting a pet.